By Lloyd Mangram

August 1986
Issue 31

Hannah Smith's claim to unique girlie tipsterdom and the backlash from C&VG's 'Melissa Ravenflame' led directly to this cover - basically an advertising campaign for Hannah. The original brief - Hannah mud-wrestling with Melissa - was deemed too inflammatory, so Oliver substituted an alien for the Ravenflame. More in his element than for several issues, Oliver turned in what became the most popular cover of the year, atmospheric, amusing and provocative by turns. CRASH always seems at its best with its back to the wall fighting for a belief . . .

Three new names appeared on this issue's masthead. lan Craig was a well-known commercial illustrator, and some of his computer-related work had appeared the previous year in the Issue 21 On The Cover feature. The object was to have someone to help with the massive workload of illustrations, which up till then had all been on Oliver's shoulders. Tony Flanagan was a college lecturer from near Telford who wanted to move into journalism. He became the third Staff Writer for CRASH, but his time at the Towers turned out to be short. The third name had a familiar ring about it, especially to ZZAP! readers, for it was Julian's brother, Jonathan Rignall. The increasingly complex film-planning work we were undertaking in-house meant that Matthew Uffindell had less and less time to spare in the process camera room making halftone pictures. So Jonathan was brought into the department as a process-camera operator.

The month of July saw much activity on the new magazine, too - LM had become a reality, a launch date was set for a free copy with the Christmas Specials of the three computer titles, and Roger Kean was beginning interviews for the large new editorial team that would be required for this ambitious project. It was also clear that the King Street offices could no longer cope. Newsfield had been searching for over a year for premises big enough for expansion, but there was nowhere available in Ludlow. So a large semidetached house similar in size to the King Street headquarters was purchased and converted to offices for administration and LM editorial. This was on Gravel Hill, Ludlow (once misspelled 'Grovel Hill', and it would soon be nicknamed 'The Grovelry' since it was where the pay cheques were issued . . . ). But the move was still over a month away as the August issue started.

In the meantime, the tiny CRASH office was even more cramped, so Tony Flanagan was dispatched to Liverpool to interview Software Projects about their forthcoming conversion of Dragon's Lair. Interest ran high, partly because of Dragon's Lair arcade fame, partly because no-one could see how Coleco's complex, interactive game would come out on a home micro. It was hoped they would do better with it than US Gold did with the conversion of Kung Fu Master, a flaccid beat-'em-up which got 56% - the same as Subterranean Nightmare, but the latter was a £2.99 budget game under US Gold's new Americana label. Americana worked well enough for them on the Commodore 64, where golden oldies imported direct from the States offered good value for money, but of course in converting most lost their original qualities on the Spectrum and proved to be no more than low-value games like so many other budget products of the period.

Still, Firebird scored a budget Smash, Rebel Star, with Sean Masterson in Frontline, and a full-price one with Heartland. This arcade adventure was programmed by Odin, who had ceased marketing their own product to become Telecomsoft developers . . . the absorption of independents by larger software houses continued. The Edge had a hit on their hands as the Marble Madness clone Bobby Bearing found CRASH favour; and so did Palace with the follow-up Cauldron II, successful because though it was a sequel in name, in gameplay it was entirely different from the first Cauldron, a very polished platform game. Hewson brought out Pyracurse, an isometrically 3-D scrolling adventure in the mould of Dragontorc, but the peculiar problems it presented made it special.

Our peculiar problems were about to start - school holidays and nowhere to seat anyone . . .

Issue 30